When Deer Season Starts in Texas

Charles Dickens once said: “There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast.” It seems that Texans have had hunting in their blood for as long as they can remember. The state is known for being the best destination to hunt whitetail deers. But when does deer season start in Texas?

The deer season in Texas starts in October and remains restricted to archers only for about a month. Hunting rifles begin to join the hunt later In November and last until the following January 16. You can use muzzleloader shotguns only from January 3 to January 13.

Wild South Texas Chocolate Fallow Deer Buck - Texas View
Wild South Texas Chocolate Fallow Deer Buck - Texas View

When Does Deer Season Start in Texas?

The general deer hunting season in Texas begins from November 5th until January 16th of the following year. The archery-only season usually begins a month earlier than the general hunting season.

Deer aren’t the only animals that Texans hunt. They also hunt Wild Turkeys and Pronghorns, both in their respective seasons. As for the deers themselves, there are two types of deer that Texans can hunt in the state:

  • The Whitetail deer
  • The Mule deer

The hunting seasons for both types of deer usually overlap. Still, it’s worth knowing a bit more about both types and when exactly their hunting season is.

Whitetail Deer

Whitetail deer are the smallest North American species. The adult males (bucks) weigh an average of 150 pounds, while the females (does) weigh around 100 pounds.  

Whitetail deers have a brown coat in summer that fades to a grayish-brown in winter. The males have antlers that are easily distinguishable from a distance. However, no two deers have the same antlers. They may look similar and have the same size, but the points will definitely differ.

Here’s the detailed hunting season of Whitetail deer in Texas:

SeasonDatesZones
GeneralNovember 6 – January 2North
GeneralNovember 6 – January 16South
Special lateJanuary 3 – January 16North
Special lateJanuary 17 – January 30South
Archery-OnlyOctober 2 – November 5252 out of 254 counties
Muzzleloader shotgunJanuary 3 – January 1690 out of 254 counties
Whitetail Deer Seasons and Zones

If you’d like to know which counties are included in the Whitetail deer archery-only seasons, you may check the government’s official website.

Mule Deer

From a distance, it’s quite difficult to differentiate between Whitetail deer and Mule deer due to their similar coloration. Mules are slightly larger and heavier than Whitetail deers.

The Mule deer buck weighs between 120–330 pounds, while the does weigh between 90–200 pounds. That’s likely not enough to tell them apart, but the weight difference is obvious in their body structure.

Like the Whitetails, here’s the detailed hunting season of Mule Deers:

SeasonDatesZones
GeneralNovember 20 – December 5Panhandle
GeneralNovember 20 – November 28SW Panhandle
GeneralNovember 26 – December 12Pecos
Archery-OnlyOctober 2 – November 559 out of 254 counties
Mule Deer Seasons and Zones

How to Identify Whitetail Deer

To identify the Whitetail deer, look for the reddish-brown or tan coating and the tail with a white underside. When a whitetail deer is on high alert, it raises its white tail to alert other deer. The raised tail resembles a raised white flag.

Keep in mind that it’s difficult to differentiate between adults and fawns (young deer) from a distance—especially if your eyes haven’t seen many deer before. Here’s how to identify adult whitetail deer from their fawns:

Adults:

  • They have larger bodies that look like a rectangle from a distance
  • The necks are clearly long and well-structured
  • The size of the head is proportionate to the bodies
  • Bucks have large antlers (large branched horns) on their heads

Fawns:

  • They have small bodies that look square-shaped
  • The necks are considerably small
  • The head size looks a bit too large for the body
  • Both males and females have no antlers
Deer Lying On Grass Without Velvet On Antlers
Deer Lying On Grass Without Velvet On Antlers - Texas View

How to Identify Mule Deer

Whitetail deer and Mule deer often get mixed up because of how similar they look. They both have a similar reddish-brown coating. Your best bet would be to notice the Mules’ cream-colored tail with a black tip.

Additionally, if you have seen enough deer, you should be able to spot the considerably larger ears that Mule deer have. To the trained eye, those ears should be an easy identifying feature to distinguish between them and the whitetail deer.

Keep in mind that those features are much easier to identify at closer distances. The problem is that the closer you get, the more likely the deer will detect your presence. Deer, in general, have great hearing, and the Mule deer, in specific, can hear even better with those large ears.

Deer Season in Texas FAQs

Can I carry a handgun while hunting in Texas?

Carrying concealed firearms and handguns during hunting is prohibited by the State. You may get special permission to carry a handgun, but it’s not to be used for hunting purposes regardless of the species you use it on. The only exception is self-defense cases.

What happens if you shoot a deer and can’t find it?

If you can’t find the deer, go back to where the deer was standing when you first shot it. You’ll find a footprint trail and a blood trail that should lead you to the deer. Do your best to find that deer because letting it go with an injury will cause it to suffer a lot. You can call for help if you need it.

Do deer always leave a blood trail?

Sometimes, you have to rely on your senses and the foot trails only, as the deer won’t always leave a blood trail. Take your time to study the ground around you; the blood trail could be too thin for a quick glance to notice it.

How far do you have to be from a house to hunt in Texas?

According to the rules and regulations, you should be at least 600 feet away from the nearest private property.

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